Feeds

New flexible lens works like the one in your eye - and could replace it

Smaller and simpler focusing and zooming in future cams

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

Scientists have created an artificial eye lens out of 800,000 layers of plastic that could revolutionise eye implants and aerial surveillance.

Based on research from 2008 published in journal Optics Express, the new plastic eye closely copies the structure of the human eye and other natural materials including tendons and butterfly wings.

This shows fabricated lens images (a and d) and measured geometry surface profiles (b/c and e/f) of the aspheric anterior and posterior bio-inspired human eye GRIN lenses, credit Optic Express

Polymer lens showing off its capabilities

Researchers at the Case Western Reserve University in Ohio, working with spin-off lab PolymerPlus, created the lens by stacking up layers of laminated plastic. Weighing a tenth of a traditional lens, the polymer version is up to three times more powerful and, crucially, had the capability to be flexible enough to incrementally change its refraction of light.

The new polymer lens can refract light thousands of different ways because each layer has its own refractive index. This multilayer lens design is called gradient refractive index optics, or GRIN optics. That contrasts to traditional lenses that have a single surface and a single refractive index.

This gradated refraction is much more similar to what takes place in the human eye.

The technique that allowed researchers to layer plastic so finely is called multilayer-film coextrusion: a 4,000-layer film is coextruded, and then 200 layers of film are stacked to create an 800,000-nanolayer sheet.

The stacking technique also affords much greater control for engineers over the overall refractive capabilities of the lens.

Michael Ponting, polymer scientist and president of PolymerPlus said they had been inspired by butterflies as well as human eyes:

Applying naturally occurring material architectures, similar to those found in the layers of butterfly wing scales, human tendons, and even in the human eye, to multilayered plastic systems has enabled discoveries and products with enhanced mechanical strength, novel reflective properties, and optics with enhanced power.

Applications of the new lens include lens implants for people with defective or diseased lens and much improved images in areas like aerial surveillance or medical cameras. ®

The Power of One Infographic

More from The Register

next story
World Solar Challenge contender claims new speed record
One charge sees Sunswift travel 500kms at over 100 km/h
SMELL YOU LATER, LOSERS – Dumbo tells rats, dogs... humans
Junk in the trunk? That's what people have
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
Bad back? Show some spine and stop popping paracetamol
Study finds common pain-killer doesn't reduce pain or shorten recovery
Forty-five years ago: FOOTPRINTS FOUND ON MOON
NASA won't be back any time soon, sadly
Jurassic squawk: Dinos were Earth's early FEATHERED friends
Boffins research: Ancient dinos may all have had 'potential' fluff
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.